Archives for category: Readings

Guilty?

Guiltier than I had known, far guiltier than I had thought–guilty of the evil of damning as guilt that which was my best.

I damned the fact that my mind and body were a unit, and that my body responded to the values of my mind.

I damned the fact that joy is the core of existence, the motive power of every loving being, that it is the need of one’s body as it is the goal of one’s spirit, that my body was not a weight of inanimate muscles, but an instrument able to give me an experience of superlative joy to unite my flesh and my spirit.

That capacity, which I damned as shameful, had left me indifferent to sluts, but gave me my one desire in answer to a woman’s greatness.

That desire, which I damned as obscene, did not come from the sight of her body, but from the knowledge that the lovely form I saw, did express the spirit I was seeing–it was not her body that I wanted, but her person.

To you, my sweet.

“Being spiritual has nothing to do with what you believe and everything to
do with your state of consciousness.”
– Eckhart Tolle

T. Harv Eker:

“In every forest, on every farm, in every orchard on
earth, what’s under the ground creates what’s above the ground. That’s
why placing your attention on the fruits you have already grown is futile.
You can’t change the fruits that are already hanging on the tree. But you
can change tomorrow’s fruits. To do so, you will have to dig below the
ground and strengthen the roots.”

“The secret of being a bore is to tell
everything,” said French writer Voltaire.

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you
select your clothes every day. That’s a power you can cultivate. If you
want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the
only thing you should be trying to control.”

— Elizabeth Gilbert

“The whole point of Jesus’s life was not that we should become exactly
like him, but that we should become ourselves in the same way he
became himself. Jesus was not the great exception but the great
example.”

– Carl Jung

“Remember, there is a difference between grateful anger and
dehumanizing hatred,” he shouted above the din.

“What do you mean?” I yelled back.

“Grateful anger is good darkness. Dehumanizing hatred is bad darkness.”

“More clues, please.”

“Grateful anger flows when you have engaged and studied your shadow.
Dehumanizing hatred flows when you have ignored and denied your
shadow. One is fertile, the other hysterical.”

A mathematical formula: I liked that. I assumed he meant the shadow that
Carl Jung described. The unripe and unillumined corners of the soul.

He continued: “Grateful anger is when you feel thankful for the irritating
people and sickening situations that have spurred you to clarity and
righteous action. Dehumanizing hatred is when you are so in love with
your terrible emotion that you forget what needs to be changed and turn
yourself into your enemy.”

– Rob Breszny, “The Televisionary Oracle”

In my early days, many people tried to tempt me to become a sannyasin. I said, ‘No, I will marry. I will see the struggles and the upheavals of the world, and I will practice.’ So I am an old soldier. I have six children and still I practice yoga. I have not abandoned my responsibilities towards other people. I can live in life as a witness without being part and parcel of the action.

I did not neglect my practice, nor did I neglect my family. The problem with many of us is ambition. You want to perform the asanas as you see me perform them, but you forget that I have been practicing yoga for more than fifty years, whereas you are just beginning. An ambitious or impatient approach will bring you illness–physical illness or mental illness. So treat the practice of yoga as part of your life, allowing it space within your normal activities.

As I have said, there is a culmination in self-realization. The end goal is the sight of the soul. If one had no end in view, one would not do the work. We can reach the infinite, but we must do so with the finite means at our disposal. Anything done spasmodically has only a spasmodic effect. If you only practice spasmodically, you cannot expect to maintian the sensitivity of intelligence nor the maturity in the effort required to progress towards the ultimate goal. You must cultivate a certain discipline so that you can maintain that creative sensitivity. Instead of working as and when you feel, it is better to work regularly every day in order to maintain the quality of the effects.

Do not have it in your mind that you should have something extraordinary to show to other people. If you put a seed in the ground today and say, ‘In ten days I want fruit,’ does it come? The fruit comes naturally, does it not? When the tree is ready to bear fruit, it comes. Even if you say, ‘I want it, I want it!’ it does not come any sooner. But when you think that the tree is not going to give you any fruit at all, all of a sudden you see the fruit grow. It has to come naturally, not artificially. So work, and let it come or let it not come, but continue your practice. Then, even if you have a family life and family commitments, there are no problems.

Why is an old man fond of sex? Why does his age not come to his mind at all? If he sees a young girl, his mind will be wandering, even though he may have no physical capacity. What is the state of his mind? He would like to possess her, would he not? But ask him to do a little yoga, or something to maintain his health. ‘Oh, I am very old,’ he says! So the mind is the maker and the mind is the destroyer. You must tell the destructive side of the mind to keep quiet–then you will learn.

At a certain age the body does decay, and if you do not do anything, you are not even supplying blood to those areas where it was being supplied before. By performing asanas we allow the blood to nourish the extremities and the depths of the body so that the cells remain healthy. But if you say, ‘No, I am old,’ naturally the blood circulation recedes. If the rains don’t come, there is drought and famine, and if you don’t do yoga–if you don’t irrigate the body–then when you get drough r famine in the body as incurable diseases, you just accept them and prepare to die.

Why should you allow the drought to come when you can irrigate the body? If you could not irrigate it at all, it would be a different matter. But when it is possible to irrigate, you should surely do so. Not to do so allows the offensive forces to increase and the defensive forces to decrease. Disease is an offensive force; inner energy is a defensive force. As we grow, the defensive strength gets less and the offensive strength increases. That is how diseases enter into our system.

A body which carries out yogic practices is like a fort which keeps up its defensive strength so that the offensive strength in the form of diseases will not enter into it through the skin. Which do you prefer? Yoga helps to maintain the defensive strength at an optimum level, and that is what is known as health.

I am sometimes asked whether it is necessary for a yoga practitioner to believe in God. My reply is very simple: ‘If you don’t believe in God, do you believe in your own existence? Since you believe in your own existence, that means you want to improve yourself for the betterment of your life. Then do so, and perhaps it may lead you to see the higher light. So there is no need for you to believe in God, but you have to believe in yourself.’

This very experience of living wants you to live as a better person than you are. That is the divine spark of faith. From that, all the rest will follow.

Thee is a tremendous difference between belief and faith. I may believe what Christ has said, but that does not necessarily mean that I follow him. When I was suffering from tuberculosis and got healthy through yoga, I did not believe that yoga was going to cure me. It cured me. That gave me faith.

Faith is not belief. It is more than belief. You may believe something and not act on it, but faith is something you experience it. You cannot ignore it. If you ignore it, it is not faith. Belief is objective–you may take it or leave it. But faith is subjective–you cannot throw it out.

That you are existing yourself is faith. You do not believe that you are living. Your very existence is faith that you are living. But why are you living? To be a better person. Otherwise, you can just die! Let me see you die! Go and fall in the ocean! Why do you not want to fall? Because you want to live. Why? That is what you must find out. That is faith.

Now, can you differentiate what is spiritual from what is sensual?

When the parents are spiritually united sexually, the first child is a divine child. It is a pure flower of pure love and pure communion. But after the first child,  can you maintain the same communion as you had in that first flowering of your love? If that love can be maintained throughout your life, it is a divine love. If the love changes, and if the wife or the husband splashes out on somebody else, like when you splash water, then you must understand whether that is a true spiritual love, or a sensual love. It has to be experienced. It is subjective. Each one can feel whether it is only a sensual pleasure, or a spiritual divine communion of love between two people.

There is a moral concept in the philosophy of yoga which has led to a great deal of misunderstanding. This is the fourth aspect of yama, known as brahmacharya. According to the dictionary, ‘brahmacharya’ means celibacy, religious study, self-control and chastity.

All the treatises on yoga explain that the loss of semen leads to death and its retention to life. Patanjali also emphasises the importance of continence of body, word and mind. He explains that the preservation of semen produces valour and vigour, strength and power, courage and bravery, energy and the elixir of life; hence his injunction to preserve it through a concentrated effort of will.

Nevertheless, the philosophy of yoga is not intended only for celibates. Nearly all the yogis and sages of ancient India were married and had families. The sage Vasistha, for example, had  a hundred children and was nevertheless considered a brahmachari because he did not seek only pleasure in sexual relations.

Brahmacharya is thus not a negative concept, nor an enforced austerity, nor a prohibition. Actually, the sages who were married would determine by a study of the stars what was an auspicious day to have sexual relations, so their progeny would be virtuous and spiritually minded. This discipline was considered to be a part of brahmacharya.

Today, in the name of freedom, everyone behaves like a libertine, but the life of a libertine is not true freedom. The five principles of yama constitute social ethics. Each individual should observe a certain discipline within society. Only freedom combined with discipline is true freedom.

For me, brahmacharya is happy married life, since the married man or woman learns to love their partner both with the head and the heart, whereas the so-called brahmachari, who claims to be celibate, may love nobody but cast a lustful eye on whoever he or she might meet.

– B. K. S. Iyengar, The Tree of Yoga

According to Indian tradition, society is divided into four categories or castes known as brahmin (the priesthood), kshatriya (the warrior caste), vaishya (the merchant caste) and shudra (the labourers). Even if today these categories seem to be disappearing as social divisions, they remain present unconsciously and represent different qualities of being which have meaning for us no matter what our profession or place in society may be.

How do these categories apply to the discipline of yoga? A beginner must work hard and sweat in order to learn. This is the quality of the shudra. When he has become an experienced student, he will express himself by teaching to earn his living through yoga. This is the state of mind of the merchant or trader and so represents the quality of the vaishya. Then he will enter into competition with his colleagues–maybe he will even teach with feelings of pride and superiorty. This reveals the martial chiaracter of the kshatriya. At the final stage, the seeker penetrates deeply into the essence of yoga to draw from it the nectar of spiritual realisation. This is the religious fervour of yoga, and when one acts on the basis of this feeling, one’s practice of yoga is that of a brahmin.

These four divisions occur in many other areas. Thus, the life of the human being, considered as a hundred years, is divided into four consecutive twenty-five year periods called ashramas. These are respectively brahmacharya, the phase of general and religious education; garhasthya, or life in the home; vanaprastha, or preparation for renunciation of family activities; and sannyasa, or detachment from the affairs of this world and attachment to the service of the Lord.

The sages of ancient times also distinguished four aims of life, or purusharthas, and recommend the pursuit of one of the four aims of life during each of the four ashramas. The four aims of life are dharma, the science of ethical, social and moral obligations; artha, the acquisition of worldly goods; kama, the pleasures of life; and moksa, freedom or felicity.

When we lived in tribal societies, we had three kinds of leaders who held special ‘star’ status in the community. One was the chieftain, the political and ceremonial head of the community. Another was the warrior, the leader into battle. The third was the shaman, the spiritual and healing guru of the tribe.

Over the centuries, we have remembered the significance of the chieftain–the famous faces of presidents and prime ministers are on today’s magazine covers. We have remembered the warrior, not only as military hero but in the ‘ritualized combat’ world of sports. Top sportspeople like Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali fulfil for us the need for heroes in competition for whom we feel loyalty and support. Today the top sports stars are rich and famous.

But we have forgotten about the shaman, wohse inspirational role was to journey to the spirit world, and bring back wisdom and blessings to the people of his community. Entranced by his spirit helpers, he enacted for the people the stories of his sacred sojourns to the Otherworld. He took on the spirits’ facial expressions, and spoke in their voices. So potent was the shaman’s face in embodying the spirit world that in some ritual dramas his face could be represented as a mask — and the spirits entered it of their own accord.

The shaman’s performances, enacting stories of his encounters with the spirits, provided for the tribe an entertainment with sacred intent. In tribal times these living myths were regarded as gifts from the gods which could be understood only from within the imagination. Then, the imagination was for us at least as significant as the pragmatic ‘reality’ of the everyday.

We no longer understand this view. Today we tend to think of the imagination as a nindulgence, as recreation rather than business. But psychologists and psychiatrists are acutely aware of just how important the imagination is to our emotional well-being. For our effective functioning we need both the reality-testing, pragmatic, empirical mind of analysis, and the intuitive faculty of fantasy and visioning. If we had to live our lives locked totally in the rational, without access to fantasy or imagination, we would all go mad.

Kings and queens do not have fans; they have subjects. But the shaman had ‘fans.’ The word fan derives from the Latin fanaticus, meaning ‘driven to a frenzy by worship of th edivine.’ But when the shaman was either outlawed in favour of priests of organized religions, or displaced by the objective world of science and technology, who did we have to take us on journeys of the imagination? The answer is the actor.

The film and TV stars of today work in a medium that has the power, glamour and impact of the tribal ritual drama. The fanaticus has been transferred to modern entertainers, whether they are worthy of it or not.

This is no longer a sacred process, of course, but it still carries enormous importance. The imagination is something we need at the deepest levels. But because we have forgotten the nature of this need, and the origins and importance of what shamans used to do, it has left us unable to explain why we pay actors up to $20 million for ten weeks’ work on a feature film, and why they were literally hero-worshipped, with their faces prominent in all the media.

The simple reason for this is that we need them. Hard though it is to admit, the multi-billion-dollar Hollywood fame machine would not exist unless we were willing accomplices.

Nevertheless, it still seems a big step from sacred spirit journeys with shamans to the ‘worship’ of soap opera stars. How did this come about?

– The Human Face, Brian Bates

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power.

What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal.

We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

– George Orwell, 1984